If you are a man, or if you know a man, you need to read this article. Same goes for ladies. Read this article. This article comes from the Husbands and Dads Blog.

Written by Chris Diggins, professional counselor (LMHC). You can check out his practice and blog by visiting Relationship Counseling Seattle.

Pornography is sometimes viewed as “normal” or an “art form.” A person might say, “What’s wrong with it?…I am not hurting anybody….everybody does it.” Those who promote, want to use, or can’t stop using porn, often have this perspective.

Here are some of the harmful consequences:

1. Porn often leads to more harmful sexually addictive behavior; e.g., compulsive masturbation, fantasy, promiscuity, exhibitionism, soliciting prostitutes, pedophilia, and rape. The user tends to gravitate toward the type of porn most being observed.

2. Porn by its very nature isolates an individual-making him more intent on satisfying selfish needs even at the expense of his marriage, family, financial stability, and career.

3. Porn stimulates a very powerful sexual desire followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Unfortunately, the release provides only momentary satisfaction, then an escalation of the behavior is required in an attempt to maintain a high level of sexual arousal.

4. Porn has the ability to control the user where he cannot stop. The fantasies occur more frequently as the addiction progresses.

Of the two pleasure centers in the brain, one is high impact, thrilling pleasure stimulated by pornography, erotic fantasies, or new sexual encounters. The other is a steady, less intense pleasure realized by walking on a beach, making love with a long term partner, helping a child with homework, experiencing deep feelings (painful or pleasant) and sharing them in a significant relationship.

A man doesn’t have to act out in dramatic ways to create harm in his life. Satisfaction can be achieved in small ways and still be detrimental. A beginner gets tastes of the high impact pleasure and slowly starts to integrate fantasies, images, and desires into everyday thoughts and behaviors. Even if he does not graduate to more involvement, this infiltration will still have a negative impact.

Supermodel Christy Brinkley’s family was destroyed by pornography. She and her husband, Peter Cook, had viewed porn together and considered it harmless. Then she discovered he had been masturbating via a web cam over the internet and had an affair with his 18 year old secretary whom he had groomed for sex since she was 15. She then pursued a public divorce trial to openly display his shameful behavior. In the settlement she was awarded full custody of the children. These severe consequences are just one example of what can happen to people.

People who stimulate the high impact pleasure center too often rarely get enough satisfaction. Porn can generate this type of pleasure with little effort. Once a man is hooked, he will have an extremely difficult time transitioning to healthy, more stable pleasure.

In my psychotherapy practice, couples enter therapy where the man has been caught using porn or acting out sexually. His wife is shocked, dismayed, and extremely angry about the betrayal. More often than not, they both believe it is about willpower and if he could only stay away from the computer, the prostitutes, or the porn, everything would be okay. They fail to realize that the sexual behavior is the symptom not the problem.

This is not like a substance addiction where a user can avoid a drink, a pusher or a drug. This compulsive behavior is lethal, since a man cannot simply avoid erotic thoughts. Especially in our culture, provocative images are everywhere. The underlying problem is that he is addicted to high intensity pleasure and does not know how to experience pleasure from everyday, ordinary life situations; such as, spending quality time with his family or having intimate talks and sharing with his wife. Frequently, neither partner knows how to enjoy these simple pleasures, therefore, it is not just the man who needs therapy. The marriage needs an overhaul where both have to address emotional issues.

I inform the couple, “this unfortunate, painful event can be used to open your eyes and turn your marriage around…you can end up with a wonderful marriage, one you never knew was possible. Yes, your husband betrayed you and he is responsible to repair the damage done to you…and his behavior is indicative of a person who is unhappy, bored, anxious, even depressed in his marriage. He did not know what to do to address his unhappiness. If he is so unhappy that he is willing to endanger his marriage, then more than likely you also are in an unsatisfying marriage….at some point you both will look back on this and the porn will no longer be an issue…in fact you will even be grateful that he got caught.”

The couple needs to learn to replace the depression, loneliness, anxiety and the high intensity pleasure with the everyday pleasures of delight and wonder for their marriage and their family life.

With the clinical evidence rapidly mounting against pornography use, the question remains: how can couples explore intimacy and their sexuality with suffering the negative effects of pornography?

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